Just three weeks after hiring Bill O’Brien, Ohio State is back in the market for an offensive coordinator and appears to be moving quickly to name a replacement.
On Friday, O’Brien formally accepted the head coaching position at Boston College, which became available last week after the abrupt announcement that former head coach Jeff Hafley was leaving to take the defensive coordinator position with the Green Bay Packers.
O’Brien, a Dorchester, Massachusetts native who most recently served as the offensive coordinator with the New England Patriots, immediately became a central focus in Boston College’s search for Hafley’s replacement.
With O’Brien’s status very much in the air over the past week, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day has had to prepare for a quick pivot, with one obvious candidate topping the list in UCLA head coach Chip Kelly.
Kelly’s time at UCLA already appeared to be running thin as he interviewed for multiple offensive coordinator positions in the NFL recently. Although he was not selected for any of those positions, Kelly’s extensive history with Day is likely to bring him to Columbus, according to multiple reports.
The relationship between Day and Kelly dates back to Day’s playing days at New Hampshire, where Kelly served as his offensive coordinator. Kelly left New Hampshire to take the same position at Oregon in 2007, serving in the role for two years before being named Oregon’s head coach in 2009.
As Oregon’s head coach, Kelly built the Ducks into a national power in large part due to his dynamic spread rushing offenses that routinely ranked among the best in the country. During his four years at the helm, Oregon went 46-7 and played in a BCS game all four years, including the 2010 national championship.
Kelly parlayed his success at Oregon into his first shot at leading an NFL team when he was announced as the Philadelphia Eagles head coach ahead of the 2013 season. There, Kelly and Day were reunited as Day was hired to serve as the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach in 2015, Kelly’s final season in Philadelphia.
After being fired in Philadelphia, Kelly received another opportunity the following year as he was hired as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in 2016. Day followed Kelly to San Francisco, again serving as Kelly’s quarterbacks coach before Kelly was again fired following a 2-14 season.
Kelly returned to the college ranks to lead the UCLA program ahead of the 2018 season, and he had mixed results over six seasons, winning no more than four games over the first three seasons but winning at least games over the past three. Now, Kelly and Day should soon be reunited yet again, albeit in a different power structure.
Should Kelly be hired, he will have a plethora of weapons mirroring the prolific Oregon offenses he led more than a decade ago. Day said on Wednesday he expects to relinquish playing-calling responsibilities to his offensive coordinator this season, and with a running threat at quarterback in Will Howard and perhaps the best running back tandem in the country in TreVeyon Henderson and Quinshon Judkins, Ohio State has the makings of a vaunted rushing attack it has been missing the past three years.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.